What I Learned At The Art Of Marketing

Last Sunday afternoon I was sitting around a table with a bunch of bloggers at TBEX talking about how I would love to attend the upcoming The Art Of Marketing. Little did I know that 4 hours later I would receive an email from Tibor Shanto of Renbor Sales Solutions telling me that I won his contest and would now be attending! This was great, because I had really been struggling with paying the $450 ticket price.

Fast forward to Wednesday, the day started bright and early (for me at least) at 8:45 at the Metro Toronto Convention Center. I had heard from others that this was an event not to be missed, but didn’t really know what to expect. I was most interested in going to see Seth Godin speak, because to be honest I had no idea who any of the other speakers were when I first read about the conference. I didn’t realize that Biz Stone was one of the founders of Twitter, one of the sites where I spend the majority of my time online. Other speakers included Charles Duhigg, Jonah Berger & musician David Usher but I didn’t really know much about any of them.

David Usher: His talk “How to Bring Creative Change, Innovation & Inspiration to the Work that You Do” was a great way to start the day and open the mind. Here is some of the key messaging I got from his presentation:
– Creativity is a learnable skill
– Creativity lives when you step outside if the safety zone
– Everybody has ideas but to make them real they need to be supported by structure
– There is no perfect place for creativity to take place (he demonstrated by playing a recording where his daughter would attempt to out-sing him during his song writing process)
– When a creative thought enters your mind, you should act on it right away. This was demonstrated when he talked about waking up one night with Eminem’s Stan in his head which helped inspire his hit song, Black Black Heart.

Jonah Berger: His talk on “Word of Mouth & Viral Marketing” was unfortunately one of my least favorite of the day but I did pick up a copy of his book because I think he has a lot of interesting studies. I found much of the information in his presentation to be quite dated. His stat that “only 7% of word of mouth marketing occurs online” did not seem to add up in my mind considering how many purchases are now made online. It seemed like a finding from a study at least 3 years ago. Showing the 2007 viral videos made by BlendTec, while still very relevant, just seemed like it was nothing new. If you’ve seen these videos before, which I suspect many marketers would have, you will know how awesome they are and why they went viral. It goes without saying.

Seth Godin: One of the reasons I wanted to see Seth speak was I had read his super short, but super awesome book: The Dip. Seth was probably one of my favorite presenters because he was such a great talker and I agreed with everything he said. During his talk I tweeted: “The safer you play in business the less likely you are to succeed and stand out.” which basically sums up how I interpreted his talk. Here is some of the other key messaging I got from his talk:
– What is your résumé but a piece of paper saying that you are a compliant slot filler
– We value now people who use a compass not a map
– If failure is not an option, neither is success
– The guy who invented the ship also invented the shipwreck
– Writers block is a myth, to get over it talk because nobody ever got talkers block
– Don’t be afraid to wear 2 different socks, be different

Executive Panel: This was probably the most boring part of the day, but was also kind of a slap in the face of reality. Basically all morning we had been told to be creative and think outside the box but now were being put back in a box with rules. I had one person tell me they actually fell asleep during this part and I feel they really lost the crowd with this part of the show.

Charles Duhigg: While his presentation was excellent, I think it was the least memorable of the great presentations (probably because he lacked the star power of the others). Charles main thing was talking about habits and how they are formed. His presentation was based on his habit loop (see image below) and these were some of my key takeaways:
– Want to be able to perform activities that you normally dislike? Give yourself a reward every time you complete the activity
– The levers for creating change are finding what someone’s cue & reward are for an activity
– When kids learn willpower they are smarter, get married younger, get better jobs and more
– People going through major life events are more likely to spend much more money. Ie. new house, marriage or new baby
– It’s okay to creep your customers, just don’t let them know you are creeping on them
– Moments when shopping habits are flexible: Moments of crisis, moments of celebration and life changes. To capture: Provide a visceral reward

Charles Duhigg Habit Loop

Charles Duhigg Habit Loop

Biz Stone: How incredible it is to be in the same room as the guy who invented one of the most amazing tools of our time! Biz’s talk was a series of stories and the life lessons he learned from each. Here are the key messages from his talk:
– To succeed spectacularly, be ready to fail spectacularly
– Opportunity can be manufactured
– STOP WAITING for things to come to you, go out and GET them yourself
– Creativity is a renewable resource
– Be emotionally invested in your idea if you want it to be successful
– Humanity will triumph with a little help from technology
– The future of marketing is altruism / philanthropy
– New definition of success for capitalism should be: traditional business success, positive impact in the world & emotional investment

One of the biggest questions I have received since attending was do I think it was worth the $450 price tag. To be honest, it really depends. You won’t really learn anything new or groundbreaking by attending the Art of Marketing. It isn’t that kind of conference. It is the kind of place you go to see things differently and change your way of thinking which is something that is really hard to put a dollar value on. So to really answer the question, I would definitely return to a future Art of Marketing if I have the money to do so comfortably and would not see a problem paying the $450 ticket price. But, if I am going through a tough time in my life where the money will be a bigger issue later on, then I don’t think it is worth going.

To close, I would like to end with one of the greatest quotes of the day from a video shown during one of the presenter’s talks: “My names not bitch, it’s Vicky”. (Those who attended will get it, those who did not watch this)

Were you there or have a question? Let me know what you thought or ask away in the comments section below.

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